Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Unnatural or just inefficient?

Photo courtesy of Dangoodwin
A couple of my instructors over the years have made a great emphasis on "learning to move naturally"
I thought that was strange because it seems to me that "natural" should mean something like "unlearned" or "instinctive." I've had a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that you might have to learn how to move naturally. When these instructors would point out some of my unnatural motions, then show me the correct, "natural" motions, I could rarely tell why one was more natural than the next
But they prescribed drills. I did the drills. And now my instinctive, natural motion is more like the motion of the "natural motion drills" and the techniques work better and feel fine but I'm still not sure what makes it more "natural."
Now when I see a student make unnatural motions I prescribe the same drills, and those drills are pretty good at curing the students, but I'm still not fully on-board with the term "natural."
I certainly agree that we become habituated with inefficient ways of doing common things. Much of this comes from what Thomas Hanna called sensorimotor amnesia. About the time we reach puberty, most of us start slowing down and trying to look cool and we stop playing with motion. Our brains lose the constant feedback from our muscles and the brain begins to forget what those muscles feel like and what they are capable of. This sensorimotor amnesia leads to us learning and habituating inefficient ways of doing things.
But un-natural??? What do y'all think?
Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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